Time To Read: 20 minutes
A Comprehensive Hearing Test designed as the foundation of Exceptional Long-Term Client Outcomes
What to expect during your hearing test
At Value Hearing, we believe that making empowered decisions is a result of being well-informed. This is why we set aside ninety minutes for our initial assessments; to provide you with the knowledge you need to make an educated decision. People who have experienced hearing assessments before often ask us what happens to make them so long (most hearing assessments these days run between thirty and sixty minutes), and so we have put together this quick guide to help understand what it is we do, and what can be expected during an assessment with one of our clinicians.
Before your initial appointment
Before you step into our clinic, we want to start understanding your hearing difficulties and needs. After you book your appointment, you will receive an email with our Online Case History Form. This provides our team with an overview of your concerns and history so that we can tailor the session to your unique needs. We ask that you return this form to us as soon as convenient so that our hearing specialists can anticipate any special requests that you may have.
Let the Assessment begin!
Your appointment will begin with a discussion of the information you have already provided us. At this point, it can help to let your clinician know of any expectations or prior information you have received in regard to your hearing.
Making sure there are no medical issues
The next step is for us to examine your ear's health. This involves a visual inspection of the ear canal (otoscopy). All of our clinics are equipped with video otoscopes that allow you to view what the audiologist does. Depending on your case history, and otoscopy, your hearing specialist may also wish to check your middle ear health. While this is not always necessary, it can help to provide further information on your overall ear health. We do this by placing a bit of pressure in the ear canal and measuring the movement of the eardrum (compliance). This test takes only a few seconds and feels similar to when your ears change the pressure in an airplane.
Establishing your hearing ability
Once we are satisfied that we can obtain accurate results, we will establish your hearing thresholds. During this part of the assessment, we are looking to establish the softest sounds that you can hear. Your clinician will present a series of beeps and ask you to press a button whenever you hear one, even if it is very quiet. It is not uncommon to think that you are hearing a sound when nothing is there. Our hearing specialists are all skilled at identifying, and resolving, this if it happens during your appointment.
Hearing speech in quiet
After your hearing thresholds are established, the next step is to determine how this impacts your ability to understand speech in quiet. To do this, your clinician will ask you to repeat back words that you hear. These words may vary in volume, and guessing is encouraged if you don’t quite catch what is said.
Hearing speech in noise
The final part of the hearing aid assessment involves measuring your hearing ability in more challenging listening environments. This is done through a scientifically measured assessment of speech understanding in background noise (called the QSIN). During this test, you will be asked to repeat back sentences in increasingly louder levels of background noise. This step is important in determining the real-world impact of your hearing loss (as very few of us are truly ever in truly quiet environments). Your audiologist will present these sentences at a relatively loud volume that corrects your hearing loss in order to understand how different hearing aids may benefit you.
Note: It has recently come to my attention that certain hearing clinics are using speech-in-noise testing to make your hearing loss appear worse than you may think it is. This testing is supposed to be performed at levels that are loud, but comfortable. Some clinics play these test sentences at barely audible levels, causing you to inevitably fail. They then use this "evidence" to prove to you that your hearing is worse than you thought! This is not how these tests are intended to be performed.
You can actually experience the speech-in-noise test for yourself right here:
Explaining the results
Once the testing has been completed your hearing specialist will explain your results. We begin by providing an overview of the different parts of the ear (and their functions). Your results are then explained in relation to this information. Your audiologist will point out how your results relate to your unique hearing difficulties, and what potential solutions are suitable for your needs.
We begin by explaining the function of the ear and then relate this to the testing you've just completed. We also relate your test results to the difficulties you have with hearing in an easy-to-understand manner.
Your Ideal Hearing Solution is recommended
After all the testing, our audiologists have a strong indication of which one, or two, hearing aid models are best suited to your needs. We do this by utilising our in-house developed system to determine which devices are most suitable to meet your hearing needs in quiet (as determined on the audiogram), and in background noise (as determined by the QSIN). We then take into consideration your lifestyle, budget, and personal preferences to select the device(s) best matched to you. Over the years we have found that this system helps our clinicians to avoid over-prescribing expensive technology that may not yield a practical benefit to you. Recent limited data is starting to suggest that getting a better hearing aid that required may possibly not be good for your brain's processing (further study is needed). Our clinicians are not incentivised to sell one brand over another, and we are not bonded to one particular manufacturing house. This allows us to select the device we think is best for the individual’s needs.
Hearing aids come in many shapes and technologies. Our in-house developed system helps us to select the best solution for you.
At any point throughout this process, our clinicians welcome your questions and comments as to the recommendations they are making. They are happy to discuss alternative brands you may have been recommended, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of selecting higher or lower technology levels. This can help you to be confident that you are making an informed decision about your hearing devices.
An example of an audiogram that is obtained during your hearing test
Once you and your audiologist have chosen your ideal hearing aid, the next step is to arrange a fitting appointment. It is possible to fit you at your initial hearing aid assessment if we have your preferred device in stock (we have a range of brand-new hearing aids in stock for same-day fitting, so you can experience improved hearing immediately). Please note, that if you wish to be fitted with hearing aids on the same day of the appointment, it is advisable you let our staff know early on in the appointment as this can help determine their recommendations. If we do not have your preferred device in stock then our team will order it for you and we can see you again in as little as a day’s time to fit you with your new hearing aids.
Our difference is to your benefit
As you can see, there is a lot to cover in a hearing assessment. We’ve found that the 90-minute assessment gives us enough time to perform a complete series of tests, and explain your results and recommendations, without having to rush through anything. Over the years we’ve found that this empowers our clients to be better informed about their hearing care and has contributed to our high client satisfaction levels (98% on independent surveys, and a higher Net Promoter Score (NPSTM) than AppleTM).
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